About us


About BESS

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) assesses energy and water efficiency, thermal comfort, and overall environmental sustainability performance of your new building or alteration. It was created to assist builders and developers to demonstrate that they meet sustainability information requirements as part of planning permit applications. BESS can also be used by any member of the community to assess the design of their home and find ways to make it more sustainable.


BESS replaces two tools that have supported Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) for the past decade. These are:

  • STEPS, originally developed by Moreland City Council to assess residential buildings
  • Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS), originally developed by the City of Port Phillip to assess non-residential buildings.

STEPS and SDS have been retired from use. STEPS is now closed to new projects, however the website will remain open for access to historical STEPS assessments until 31 October 2018.

Developers may use any tool of their choice to complete an ESD assessment for a planning permit application, however it is recommended that all new applications use BESS. 

Overarching Principles

  • Purpose-built for the planning permit stage
  • Assess any size or type of development via a single interface
  • Facilitates a consistent framework and assessment of sustainability at the planning stage
  • Provides flexibility for the user while delivering sustainability outcomes. 
  • Multiple options for demonstrating compliance, include in-built calculators, deemed-to-satisfy approaches and option of alternative compliance
  • Location-neutral. Does not advantage or disadvantage a development based on location. 


The BESS Governance Board is the decision-making body for the direction and management of the tool. The Governance Board is a sub-committee of the CASBE Steering Committee.

The BESS Governance Board is responsible for the strategic direction of the BESS, including:

  • setting, reviewing and updating sustainability performance objectives. This model will address any future relationships with State and Local planning provisions;
  • resourcing, scheduling and implementing enhancements (upgrades) to the tools; and
  • resourcing and implementing regular ongoing maintenance needs.

For any questions relating to the governance or administration of BESS please contact us

Become a BESS subscriber Council

The release of BESS V1.4 in June 2016 marked the end of the free trial period for all Victorian Councils. This means that tool users are now only able to select subscribing councils in the drop down box on the Project Details page. 

BESS is provided free of charge to planning permit applicants. Ongoing management and maintenance of the tool is funded by participating local governments via annual subscription fees paid to the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE). 

A BESS subscription is open to any CASBE member council. For more information about becoming a CASBE member or subscribing to BESS, visit the CASBE website or contact the CASBE Executive Officer at casbe@mav.asn.au.